- Namibia national rugby union team
Namibia Union Namibia Rugby Union Nickname(s) Welwitschias Emblem(s) African Fish Eagle Coach(es) Johan Diergaardt Captain(s) Jacques Burger Top scorer Jaco Coetzee (335) Most tries Gerhard Mans (27)Team kitChange kit First international South West Africa 0 – 9 British and Irish Lions
(5 July 1955)
Largest win Namibia 116 – 0 Madagascar
(June 15, 2002)
Largest defeat Australia 142 – 0 Namibia
(October 25, 2003)
World Cup Appearances 4 (First in 1999) Best result Bottom of pool, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011
The Namibian rugby union team, nicknamed the Welwitschias or Biltongboere, represents Namibia at rugby union. Although they are a tier-three nation in the International Rugby Board (IRB) tier system, the team have participated in all three Rugby World Cup competitions since their first appearance in 1999. They are governed by the Namibia Rugby Union.
Namibia has been playing international rugby since the early 1900s. As well as having competed at the World Cup, Namibia annually competes in the Africa Cup. Until independence, players for Namibia were also eligible to represent South Africa, with Namibian-born Springboks including Jan Ellis and, more recently, Percy Montgomery. They are the second best team from Africa and the most likely first team candidate to join the second tier of world rugby.
Rugby union has been played in the country since 1916 when it was introduced by soldiers from South Africa who had invaded the German-run colony. Before Namibia gained its independence in 1990, the team, as South West Africa, played in South Africa's domestic club competition, the Currie Cup. The team achieved their best result in the 1989 season, where they finished third.
The Namibia Rugby Union was formed in March 1990, and it joined the International Rugby Board in the same month. Independence came too late for Namibia to qualify for Rugby World Cup 1991. Hardened by regular, tough competition in the Currie Cup, the first few years of Namibian rugby union were relatively successful, their highest point being 2–0 home series victories over Ireland and Italy in 1991. That year the Welwitschias won all 10 of their Tests, the others being five victories against Zimbabwe and one against Portugal in Lisbon.
During the international seasons Namibia played six games; the first of which was a 55–23 win over Zimbabwe. Following another victiory over Zimbabwe, in 1993 Namibia played Wales in Windhoek, losing 23–38. Namibia completed big victories over the Arabian Gulf rugby team, Kenya and Zimbabwe in the initial rounds of 1995 Rugby World Cup qualifying.
Russia toured Namibia in 1994, defeating the home team 31–12 in Windhoek. Although Namibia defeated Zimbabwe that year, the team lost to Côte d'Ivoire and drew with Morocco (all in Casablanca). In 1996 Namibia played two matches; losing 13–15 to Zimbabwe, and then defeating them by one point in a subsequent meeting. They played two games in 1997 as well, losing to Tonga and Zimbabwe.
During 1998 Namibia took part in the African tournaments for 1999 Rugby World Cup qualification. They started out in Round 3, where they finished second in the pool behind Zimbabwe on points difference (defeating Zimbabwe but losing to Tunisia). Namibia defeated Côte d'Ivoire, Morocco and Zimbabwe to qualify for the 1999 Rugby World Cup.
The team's participation was put in doubt when the Namibian government's Sports Commission barred the team from participating in a South African competition it had been using as preparation, and threatened to stop the team from taking part in the World Cup. This followed criticisms from non-white rugby clubs that the Namibian Rugby Union displayed racist attitudes. Ultimately, however, the team were allowed to take part.
The 1999 World Cup marked their debut at the tournament and since then they have been Africa's second representative alongside South Africa. While they suffered heavy defeats by France, Fiji and Canada, they took pride in scoring an early try and being level with France after 20 minutes.
However with a small player base, and lacking frequent or strong competition, the team has deteriorated in recent years. Their record in the World Cups has been poor as they have not yet managed a win. Their record defeat, 142–0 against Australia in the 2003 tournament, led to some questioning the presence of the minor teams at the tournament.
Namibia initially struggled in the qualifiers for the 2007 tournament, suffering a shock defeat to Kenya, their first ever to the East African nation, and another to Tunisia. After the Kenya defeat they slumped to 28th in the IRB rankings. However, after defeating Tunisia at home, they were effectively through to two deciding matches against Morocco, to determine which of the two African nations would make it to France in 2007. They convincingly won both legs, qualifying for the World Cup.
As the lowest ranked team at the start of the 2007 World Cup, they were given no chance in their opening game of against Ireland. However, they frustrated Ireland, then the 5th ranked team in the world, and scored two tries for their narrowest World Cup loss of 17–32. They were convincingly beaten in their games with Argentina (63–3) and France (87–10). And, in the game in which they were seen as having the best chance to win, they suffered a disappointing 30–0 loss to Georgia, to end the tournament winless.
The African side was able to win surprisingly the IRB Nations Cup in 2010, proving their improvement at international level.
Namibia achieved their third World Cup qualification in a row after defeating Ivory Coast in 2011. They were drawn into Pool D, with South Africa, Wales, Fiji and Samoa. Their first match in the Rugby World Cup, held in New Zealand (at the Rotorua International Stadium) resulted in a defeat by Fiji by 45-29. Their second match in this tournament was a 49–12 loss to Samoa but the third was a 87-0 loss to South Africa. In their final pool game, Wales proved to be too strong, as Namibia conceded 12 tries in a 81-7 defeat. Theuns Kotze provided his side's one consolation, as his conversion of a Heinz Koll try made him Namibia's all time highest Rugby World Cup points scorer.
World Cup record
- 1987/1991 – Did not enter
- 1995 – Did not qualify
- 1999/2003/2007/2011 – Qualified
Record against other Nations
Top 20 Rankings as of 21 November 2011 Rank Change* Team Points 1 New Zealand 91.43 2 Australia 87.42 3 France 84.70 4 South Africa 84.34 5 England 81.58 6 Ireland 80.65 7 Argentina 80.28 8 Wales 80.18 9 Tonga 76.63 10 Scotland 76.20 11 Samoa 75.81 12 Italy 73.99 13 Canada 72.92 14 Georgia 71.09 15 Japan 70.45 16 Fiji 68.78 17 United States 65.63 18 Romania 63.98 19 Namibia 61.24 20 Portugal 60.67 *Change from the previous week Namibia's Historical Rankings Source: IRB - Graph updated to 21/11/2011
Their test match record against all nations, updated to 22th September 2011, is as follows:
Nation Games Won Lost Drawn Percentage of wins Arabian Gulf 1 1 0 0 100% Argentina 2 0 2 0 0% Argentina A 2 0 2 0 0% Australia 1 0 1 0 0% Botswana 1 1 0 0 100% British and Irish Lions 4 0 4 0 0% Ivory Coast 4 2 1 1 50% Fiji 2 0 2 0 0% France 5 0 5 0 0% Georgia 3 1 2 0 33% Germany 2 2 0 0 100% Ireland 4 2 2 0 50% Italy 3 2 1 0 66.7% Kenya 5 4 1 0 80% Madagascar 2 2 0 0 100% Morocco 7 4 2 1 57.1% Portugal 5 4 1 0 80% Romania 3 1 2 0 33.3% Russia 2 0 2 0 0% Samoa 1 0 1 0 0% Senegal 1 1 0 0 100 % Spain 1 0 1 0 0% South Africa 2 0 2 0 0% Tonga 1 0 1 0 0% Tunisia 7 4 3 0 57.14% Uganda 2 1 1 0 50% Uruguay 1 0 1 0 0% Wales 3 0 3 0 0% West Germany 1 1 0 0 100% Zambia 2 2 0 0 100% Zimbabwe 23 20 3 0 86.4% Total (*) 87 46 40 1 52.9%
(*) Results against full national sides only
Player Position Date of Birth (Age) Caps Club/province Hugo Horn Hooker 9 May 1977 31 Unattached Egbertus O'Callaghan Hooker 18 February 1988 7 Wanderers Jané du Toit Prop 2 October 1975 19 Hamilton Raoul Larson Prop 14 May 1984 0 Villagers Johannes Redelinghuys Prop 2 February 1984 26 Wanderers Marius Visser Prop 24 April 1982 15 Border Bulldogs Nico Esterhuyse Lock 5 March 1984 26 Keetmanshoop Hendrik Franken Lock 16 January 1987 0 Villagers Uakazuwaka Kazombiaze Lock 25 January 1979 22 Reho Falcons Heinz Koll Lock 3 February 1982 9 Wanderers Jacques Burger (c) Flanker 29 July 1983 25 Saracens Tinus du Plessis Flanker 3 April 1984 26 Wanderers Rohan Kitshoff Flanker 13 September 1985 5 Western Province Renaud van Neel Flanker 23 May 1988 0 Namibia Uni Jacques Nieuwenhuis Number 8 23 March 1980 20 Stade Aurillac Pieter-Jan van Lill Number 8 4 December 1983 15 Stade Aurillac Ryan de la Harpe Scrum-half 2 September 1982 3 Moseley Eugene Jantjies Scrum-half 8 October 1986 27 Farul Constanţa Theuns Kotze Fly-half 16 July 1987 1 Johannesburg Uni Tertius Losper Fly-half 22 November 1985 9 Western Suburbs Darryl de la Harpe Centre 10 February 1986 7 Western Suburbs David Philander Centre 4 January 1987 9 United Danie van Wyk Centre 30 March 1986 3 United Piet van Zyl Centre 14 May 1979 14 Bourgoin Heini Bock Wing 28 December 1981 23 Reho Falcons Conrad Marais Wing 26 April 1989 2 Montpellier Espoirs McGrath van Wyk Wing 18 September 1987 9 Farul Constanţa Llelwellyn Winkler Wing 7 September 1987 6 Western Suburbs Chrysander Botha Fullback 13 July 1988 14 Kudus Danie Dames Fullback 7 February 1986 0 Leopards
7 reserves were also named.
Note: Flags indicate national union for the club/province as defined by the International Rugby Board.
Player Position Date of Birth (Age) Caps Club/province Shaun Esterhuizen Hooker 18 May 1987 10 United Hauta Veii Prop 14 May 1986 10 Namibia Uni Casper Viviers Prop 1 June 1988 4 Saint-Junien Morné Blom Lock 25 April 1989 3 United Roger Thompson Centre 28 September 1983 10 Western Suburbs Tinus Venter Centre 8 United Sergio de la Harpe Wing 12 August 1987 1 Western Suburbs
- ^ Chris Hewett (29 April 1999). "Rugby Union: England bucks the global growth trend". The Independent. http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/rugby-union-england-bucks-the-global-growth-trend-1090385.html.
- ^ a b "World Rankings". International Rugby Board. http://www.irb.com/rankings/full.html. Retrieved 21 November 2011.
- ^ Rugbydata.com – International Rugby Union Statistics – Statistics for Namibia – Teams Played
- ^ "Burger leads Namibian 30". Planet Rugby. 2011-08-18. http://www.planetrugby.com/story/0,25883,3891_7108820,00.html.
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